Customers need less assurance that jobs will print correctly
According a TrendWatch Graphic Arts report entitled, "Proofing: The Customer is Always Right," the demand for high-quality (film-based or digital-halftone) color proofs is down. TWGA director Vince Naselli attributes the decline to the fact that technological advancements have made color reproduction more consistent and reliable: "If you trust the back-end printing process, why pay for the expensive front-end proofing costs?"
Other factors contributing to the decline are the increase in alternative media outlets such as the web, an overall acceptance of lower-quality proofs, and an increase in digital printing, which bypasses the need to plates and sends files directly to the printer.
The higher-end proofing methods assured customers that the color, layout and text would be properly reproduced before the job reached the printing press, where edits and alterations were expensive to make. According to the TWGA study, "Print buyers are becoming increasingly more confident with lower-quality, lower-cost proofs such as PDFs. In fact, the fastest-growing proofing methods for design and production firms, publishers and print and prepress businesses is PDF/QuarkXPress files sent by e-mail, followed by desktop laser and inkjet prints. Clearly, print buyers have a greater trust in today's technology."
According to survey data published in the report, the single-sheet proof (i.e. Matchprint) still ranks number-one as the type of proof that printing firms use with their clients, but digital halftone proofing is tied with PDF/QuarkXpress at number-two.
The 166-page report sells for $1595 and can be downloaded from the company's eStore. (Trendwatch Graphic Arts: www.trendwatchgraphicarts.com)